Hooked on the daily paper, humbled by readers

Bill Archer
Bill Archer

A column by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s Bill Archer:

BLUEFIELD,  W.Va. — I was on kind of a tight leash a week ago on Wednesday when I drove down to Iaeger to cover a visit by Bill Thien, national commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Thien was visiting VFW Post 1144 in Iaeger. Going up there at night reminded me of the evening Phil Farmer and I drove to Iaeger High School to see the West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble in the fall of 1986. Sgt. James Muncy of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department alerted us to the visit several weeks prior to the date and sent out a few reminders. Things being busy in the newspapering business these days, we rarely have time for long drives to cover events. But I think all of us realized how important this visit was to Sgt. Muncy and the post, so I went and stayed as long as I could.

After I spoke to Commander Thien, and while most of the post members were enjoying pizza, sub sandwiches and more, I was watching my watch, calculating the travel time back to Bluefield and thinking about the other things on my plate for that evening. As I was doing that, a gentleman walked over to be, introduced himself as Pastor Bob Blevins from a church in Bradshaw, and thanked me for the things I write in the paper. I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to do in life is to receive a compliment. It humbles me so much. It reminds me why I work so hard. Pastor Blevins said he wanted to meet me just so he could tell me how much he appreciated my writings.

A few minutes later when I realized I was on the outer limits of my available time — life with a daily deadline teaches you when to walk and when to run — I ducked out of the meeting, and told one the VFW members, Marion Deskins, how much I enjoyed my all-too-brief visit. He responded that he knew me from my columns, and that he also drove tractor trailer for a while, and my columns brought back fond memories to him. He also said he enjoyed the late Jim Terry’s columns, as well as the columns of Samantha Perry, Charles Owens and others. He said he enjoyed reading them all.

All I could think was: One, I don’t make it to Bradshaw or Iaeger often enough to deserve any acknowledgment from people there; and two, I thought we weren’t even delivering papers in those communities. During my brief stay in circulation a few years back, I knew it was hard, hard, hard to find carriers down there. To me, delivering papers is one of the most challenging aspects of what we do…

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